New Orleans artist Ric Robertson has just released the new music video for his song “Anna Rose,” from his acclaimed 2021 album, Carolina Child, on Free Dirt Records (NPR praised his “poetic storytelling”). The video is the result of Ric’s friendship with legendary glass artists Clinton Roman and Arik Krunk. For the past year or so, Ric’s been traveling to Eugene, Oregon, one of the epicenters for borosilicate glass artists and pipe culture, and spending time playing music and collaborating at Arik and Clinton’s home studios. During long nights of psychedelic adventures, Ric and Clinton decided to try their hand at stop motion animation with Clinton’s borosilicate glass art, likely a first. The result is a remarkable video showcasing two artists in action and at play.
Thanks to the pioneering work of glass artists like Bob Snodgrass in Eugene in the 80s and 90s, borosilicate glass has gone beyond the original usage of the material in the medium of pipemaking. Snodgrass still lives in Eugene, and has now inspired several generations of glass blowers. One early Snodgrass devotee was Arik Krunk, an artist who developed a friendship with Clinton around 1995. At that time Clinton was making incredibly ornate stone-carved pipes and Arik was working with glass. Arik taught Clinton much about the medium of glass, and Clinton taught Arik much about artistic concepts. Early borosilicate pipes (mostly Snodgrass pipes) were mostly bought, sold, and appreciated at Grateful Dead shows in parking lots across America, and like most glass artists, Clinton and Arik had a particular affinity for the music of Jerry Garcia and the Dead.
Borosilicate glass, or Boro, is a special type of glass which is more durable than traditional soft glass and is often used to make glass pipes; many of the best borosilicate flameworkers are primarily pipemakers. Clinton, Krunk and other glass artists like them have developed their own unique styles as artists. Inspired by various Indigenous cultures and Egyptian art traditions, Clinton’s glass art has easily transcended its origin, bringing new sculptural ideas to the work, and his pipes are today in high demand among collectors of glass art and appreciators of contemporary psychedelia. Recently, Clinton’s home studio in Blue River, Oregon burned to the ground due to wildfire, and the borosilicate glass community has been gathering around to support him in the rebuilding process.
Clinton’s work with Ric is his most recent work to date and helped bring him back to glass after the shock of losing his studio. In addition to being a fun collaboration, together Clinton and Ric used this video as a way to experiment with stop motion animation in borosilicate glass. Clinton and Ric used glass frit, basically glass fragments used to bond glass and for decorative effect, to make a glittering landscape for the video. The glass figurine made to represent the Anna Rose character was small enough that, rather than firing the figure in a kiln, Clinton was able to use a hand torch to bend and pose the figure. The video is a first of its kind and a testament to the joy of artistic collaboration.